National team head coach Thomas Kojo has attributed the Lone Star’s 1-1 draw against DR Congo in the Group G Africa Cup of Nations qualifier to the lack of concentration among players in the final quarter of the match.
The match, which was played at a crowded Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, was the country’s second match in the qualifiers witnessed by football legend, President George Weah, who came from China just in time for the match. President Weah’s presence for the full 90 minutes did not inspire Lone Star’s players to perform the miracle that would have secured a vital three points.
DR Congo’s Elia Meschak came off the bench in the 56 minute to help rescue a point for the Leopards, after slotting home the equalizer in the 82 minute to cancel William Jebor’s opener.
Jebor, who was on Saturday named the new captain of the national team, put the host in front in the 62 minute after he brilliantly did a U-turn and fired home an assist from South African-based Anthony Laffor.
The result maintained the Leopards in the second position in Group G with four points-leveled on points with leaders Zimbabwe – who earlier played to a 1-1 stalemate against Congo Brazzaville at the Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat in Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon.
“I will give credit to my team, because we performed so well, even though we did not get all of the three points that we were aiming for,” coach Kojo said.
He added, “The only reason while we drew this game is because our players at a certain stage lost concentration. We were in the lead, and needed to play a more smart game by keeping the ball in our possession.”
The Congolese goal came as a result of a mistake from forward Laffor, after he tried clearing the ball off his half, but the ball traveled into the Lone Star defense, giving goalkeeper Tommy Songo and his full backs no chance to prevent the visitors from getting the equalizer.
Coach Kojo went in search of his first win after he was recently appointed as the new coach that would guide the team through the remaining matches of the 2019 Nations Cup qualifiers.
After a poor start from the visitors, Liberia created more goal scoring chances with skipper William Jebor making the first attempt with a left-foot strike, but goalkeeper Mossi Anthony was in a better position to make a save.
Norwegian-based forward Sam Johnson should have gotten the opener for Lone Star after missing three chances. Thanks to forward Tonia Tisdell, who kept causing trouble for the Congolese defense from the left wing.
DR Congo’s striker Benik Afobe, who plays for Stoke City in England, had no chance in the host defense as he was maintained by defenders Kemoh Kamara and Teah Dennis.
After a goalless first half, the Congolese came back much better after the introduction of Meschak, Assombalanga Britt and Akolo Chadrack midway through the second half.
Following Jebor’s opener in the 62 minutes, the thousands of Liberians who turned out for the match later became disappointed after Team Lone Star failed to defend their lone goal in the final eight minutes of the game.
Liberia remains at the bottom of the group, with one point out of two games, like their next opponent Congo Brazzaville.
Liberia will travel to Brazzaville, Congo, to play their third group match slated for October 10, 2018.
Tommy Songo (G), Kemoh Kamara, Teah Dennis, Joel Johnson, Adolphus Marshell, Allen Njie, Murphy Oscar Dolley, Anthony Laffor (Sekou Konneh 83’), Tonia Tisdell (Sylvanus Nimely 58’), Sam Johnson, William Jebor (C)
Ashely Williams (G), Alvin Maccornel, Aloysius Simujla, Saah Nyumah, Kpah Sherman.
Anthony Mossi Ngawi (G), Issama Mpeko Djos, Glody Ngonda Muzinga, Wilfred Moke, Christian Luyindama, Nelson Munganga, Jacques Maghoma (Britt Assombalonga 72’), Luamba Fabrice Ngoma, Junior Kabananga Kalonji (Elia Lina Meschack 56’), Jonathan Bolingi, Benik Afobe (Chadrac Akolo74’).
Joel Kiassumbu, Yannick Bangala Litombo, Bobo Ungenda Muselenge, Chikito Lema Mabidi.